Cats and dogs might be different, but in pregnancy, their needs are quite similar. Whelping (canines) and queening (felines) is the process of giving birth, and while it’s very instinctual, you might need a veterinarian’s assistance to ensure the mother stays healthy throughout the pregnancy and the birth goes smoothly.
Nutritional Information for Pregnant Dogs and Cats
We recommend talking to one of our veterinarians about the nutritional needs of your pet during its pregnancy. Carrying a litter of babies requires additional nutrients throughout the pregnancy and following the delivery. Proper nutrition is important to the newborns and the health of the mother.
Gestation Period for Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats are pregnant for about two months, but just as in humans, the exact number of days is variable. You can watch for these signs to let you know that delivery is imminent.
- Dogs may drag pillows and toys to their nest.
- Cats usually seek privacy in a closet or laundry basket.
- In the 24 hours before the delivery, most dogs and cats stop eating, but the pet remains alert and responsive. Should your companion become unresponsive or depressed, contact the veterinarian, as it is not normal.
Signs of Labor
- Panting and pacing
- Decrease in body temperature
When labor progresses, the animal will probably lay on her side. You may even see the abdominal muscles contracting when the first puppy or kitten is on its way. Purposeful labor lasts about 30 minutes for dogs and 60 minutes for cats. Contact the veterinarian if labor progresses longer than these times without any birth.
What Should You Do During the Birthing Process
Most dogs and cats instinctively know what to do during the birthing process. However, the mother may need your help. Puppies and kittens can be born head first or tail first. Once you see the newborn, the mother should expel it from the birthing canal rather quickly. The mother should remove the birth sac and lick the puppy or kitten to stimulate breathing. If this doesn’t happen, you may need to assist the newborn. Remove the sac from the baby’s face and gently rub the baby with a soft, clean and dry cloth to help it start breathing. Return the baby to the mother immediately so that you don’t cause undue stress to the mother. Most cats and dogs instinctively eat the placenta and birth sac. It’s completely normal behavior.
When Should You Contact a Veterinarian During This Time?
Although many times, the birthing process goes well, there can be complications. Stay in contact with Critter Care Center during the pregnancy to get your new litter of four-legged friends off to the best start. Watch for these complications and call if necessary:
- A baby becomes stuck in the birth canal
- Stillborn puppies or kittens
- Excessive bleeding or abnormal material from the birth canal
- Crying and licking at the vulvar area during the birthing process
- More than four hours elapses between the birth of puppies
- Purposeful labor without a birth for more than 30 minutes in dogs
- Purposeful labor without a birth for more than 60 minutes in cats